From our previous blog posts, we mentioned a scooter accident on Easter Island and then I ended up in the emergency room back at home. It’s time to share what happened and what we learned.
Prior to our trip, we briefly discussed transportation and then forgot until we landed. Below was how our conversation went when procuring a vehicle for Easter Island.
Jackie: We should rent bicycles. We’ll get a good leg workout around the island. They are cheaper to rent than a car.
Justin: Let’s go with a scooter. It’s the same price as renting two bicycles and it is motorized.
Jackie: Do you know how to drive a scooter?
Justin: I have my motorcycle license. I also rode on a scooter in Taiwan.
Jackie: (Hesitates) Hmm…okay.
There were plenty of rental agencies in Hanga Roa from cars, scooters, bicycles, and ATVs. The bicycle rental was 10,000 CLP ($15 USD) per person per day, and the price of one scooter was a better deal for 20,000 CLP ($30 USD) per day. We received a discount as we rented for 4 days for 80,000 CLP ($120 USD).
After we signed the contract and picked out our helmets, we were ready to explore. Justin figured out how to use the scooter after a few practice rounds with acceleration and braking. I hopped on the scooter as a passenger and instantly did not like the feeling. It was my first time on the scooter. I’m surprised we didn’t crash into another car or another vehicle from leaving the rental place.
The next day, the ride felt more comfortable. As long as the roads were flat and paved, we were free and had the winds in our hair. We visited the main attractions such as Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki, and ended the day visiting Vinapu. That is when everything went bad.
In order to leave Vinapu, we had to go up a muddy path. We went through one puddle and then our scooter skid through the second puddle. The speed was slow at less than 5 mph.
We weren’t sure what happened. Our scooter was on its side, yet still functional. We were muddy, Justin had scrapes on his arms and hands, and my hiking pants ripped and with a gash above the left knee.
Blood didn’t stop flowing. We scootered 15 minutes back to our Airbnb bungalow and washed up. Our gracious host brought us to the hospital where the doctor cleaned the wound and gave 5 stitches. It was my first time getting stitches! The doctor and nurses said that light walking was fine. Bandages were changed every two days for the remainder of the trip.
Something wasn’t right. My knee wasn’t getting better even with the antibiotics. I had an excruciating pain every morning when my elevated leg was brought down from the bed to the ground. It was like a sledgehammer hit my leg a million times. I cried and the pain went away after taking some painkillers. We had to end some of the days early due to the leg pain.
The Flights Back to Santiago and U.S
Keeping my left leg elevated was key. We didn’t have any issues on the flight from Easter Island to Santiago as the flight was under 5 hours.
The flight from Santiago to the U.S. had more issues. We had three American Airlines flights to go back home. The longest flight was from Santiago (SCL) to Dallas (DFW). We were in Business Class, so we had the seats that lie down flat. During take-off, my tegaderm type bandage from the hospital burst with fluids streaming down my leg. Luckily there wasn’t any blood that came out from the stitches. The flight attendant asked if we had a doctor’s note to fly on the airplane (which we didn’t), and almost turned the plane around. We didn’t want to go back to Santiago! We convinced the flight attendant that the leg needed to be elevated, stitches were fine, and we scheduled doctor’s appointments at home. The flight attendant was great with providing a soda crate to prop the leg, bags of ice, and also bandages from the first aid kit.
Once we landed in the two other cities for our connecting flight, we requested a wheelchair for less pressure on the leg.
Hospital Visit and Overnight Stay
Once we were home, we went to our scheduled appointment for Minor Injuries department. The doctor saw my leg instantly and said that I needed to go to the Emergency Room. He refunded my co-pay and we headed straight to the ER.
The ER was a blur due to the long process. We saw a doctor to evaluate the situation, gave blood samples, waited in the waiting room for a few hours, was brought to a room in ER hours later, and then was in surgery four hours later past 9pm. I was under anesthetics as the doctors re-cleaned the wound, removed the excess fluids from the injury, and restitched the leg. I woke up groggy an hour later and saw Justin greet me.
I stayed in the hospital for four nights as the doctors wanted to confirm the correct antibiotics and medications with the blood culture. They said that I was lucky that the infection didn’t spread to the bones or the blood. I kept myself busy with working remotely (thank goodness for the hospital wifi!), sleeping, and eating.
The hospital food wasn’t as bad, and had a variety of vegetarian. I was pleased to choose my own meals each day (except for the breakfast post surgery). One of my favorite meals was the salmon with veggies. Yum!
Justin deserves the Husband of the Year award since he slept over on the pull out futon for four nights!
Lots of rest, administering antibiotics to myself daily via a PICC line, care, and strengthening the knee area with physical therapy followed afterwards. It was challenging since I missed taking the fitness classes at work.
It’s been 6 months since the surgery and I’m stronger than ever. I am grateful that I am able to bend my knee, exercise and move around, ride my bike, and have full mobility. Life was challenging with hobbling around places.
My scar and bruise area is fading slowly. Whenever I exercise, the bruise area becomes a dark brown with the blood flow. We call it the “exercise o-meter.” What a memorable way to remember a trip!
After the incident, we had several ah-ha moments:
- Rent a car. Cars get primary or secondary auto collision/damage coverage on credit cards. Scooters do not. A scooter part broke off during the crash and cost us $70 USD for the damages.
- Purchase travel insurance for medical treatment and medication coverage and other emergencies. We spent $30 USD on medication and $185 USD for the hospital visit in Easter Island, which could have been covered by insurance. It wasn’t a part of our budget for Easter Island, yet still cheaper than back in the US.
- Remember all the good and bad memories as they are great stories to share with others!
What are some of your travel accidents? Share in the comments below!